Department of Horticulture, Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University,
Khon Kaen Province, Thailand
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Orchids are highly valued ornamentals both in the Thai national, as well as in the international market. The Asian countries of Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand are the major forces in orchid trade. Moreover, Thailand is a country with an abundance of native wild orchids. Rhynchostylis gigantea (Lindl) Ridl. Is such a native species found in the rainforest or mixed deciduous forest of Thailand? It is important that care is taken during the early development of Thai orchids to ensure that they retain their characteristic bouquet of beautiful flowers with cylindrical prominent curve. Each bouquet has more than 50 flowers, petals are white with purple points and have a strong aroma when the flowers are in full bloom. Flowers bloom during the mid-winter period, from December to February. In 1998, the government issued a law prohibiting the export of wild orchids; however, this law excludes the in vitro propagation by seed culture. It is difficult to propagate Rhynchostylis under natural conditions because seed germination requires the assistance of mycorrhiza to convert starch to sugar, necessary for orchid seed germination.
Orchid propagation using tissue culture techniques is practiced from many decades, and plant induction and regeneration are influenced by many factors. Nutrient composition is considered to be the major source of variation in plant tissue culture and, indeed, numerous culture media have been used in time for the efficient plant regeneration of orchids in tissue culture. However, production costs are high due to the expensive chemicals used with the in vitro propagation recipes. In addition, certain chemicals are not easily available in some countries and have to be imported from abroad. Hence, in order to reduce the high costs of tissue culture techniques, the orchid medium could be substituted by cheaper and more easily available chemical compounds. So far, there is no report on the use of these common fertilizers to substitute the standard orchid VW (Vacin and Went, 1949) medium. Hence, the present study investigated the potential of common orchid fertilizers as a replacement for the standard VW medium on Rhynchostylis, with the aim to reduce its production costs.